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>> rose: welcome to the program. august 28, 2013, marks 50th anniversary of the march on washington, and the famous speech by dr. martin luther kino congressman johning with, who with dr. king. progress. back in 1963, charlie, let me tell you, i s that said white waing, colored waiting, those signs are gone. we passed the civil rights bill. we passed the voting right act, the fair housing act.
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and when people say to me nothing has checked. i say come dalk in my scooz. >> we talk with jonathan rider, isabelle wilkerson, and clarence jones. >> the march was nmy view, the culminn ofio 100 years of frustration and despair. 1963 began with the centennial, the 100th anniversary of the emancipation proclamation. and that means that when these people came together, those quarter of a million people came together, they were in some ways representing all the hopes and dreams that had idea yt to be fulfull fulfilled. >> rose: the 50th anniversary of the march on washington next.
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captioning sponsored by rose communications from our studios in new york city, this is charlie rose. >> rose: we begin with john lewis. he is a congressman from georgia, a democrat. he was one of the big six leaders of the civil rights
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movement andrmanaif the student nonviolent committee. this year, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the historic march on washington. on that day in august, lewis was one of only 10 speakers who took to the steps of the lincoln memorial. he was just 23 years old. john lewis remains the last speaker still living. he has now told his story in a graphic novel. it is called "march, book one." i am pleased to have john lewis back at this table. welcome. >> thank you very much. good to see you, my friend, my brother. thank you for having me. >> rose: good. take me back. take me back to august 28, 1963, 50 years ago. >> well, 50 years ago i was only 23 years old, as you stated. it was an unbelievable day. on that day, 10 of us went up on capitol hill.
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we met with the leadership of the house and the senate, both democrats and republicans. then we came out of the senate building on constitution avenue. we start walking, and we look toward union station. we saw hundreds and thousands of people walking. we were supposed to be the leaders of the march, the people already marching -- >> people were flowing in from around the country, on the train, getting off, to be part of the audience. >> they were coming. by train. by bus. by car. by plane. they were there. and they literally pushed us along the way. it was almost like there go my people. let me catch up with them. does and that's what we did. they pushed us toward the washington monument otoward the lincoln memorial. >> rose: the point of the march on washington was for what? >> it was called the march for
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jobs and freedom. we were there to petition members of the congress and the president of the united states to pass a strong civil rights bill. we didn't have a particular bill in mind, but a strong bill. now, if-- president kennedy, in june of 1963, he didn't like the idea of a march. he said in effect, if you bring all these people to washington won't there be violence and chaos and disorder and we'll never get a civil rights bill through the congress. a. phillip randolph, he had been seeking a march back curing the days of roosevelt and truman. so he said in his baritone voice, "mr. president, this will be an orderly, peaceful, nonviolent protest. of we came out of meet with president kennedy, and said to the press we had a productive meeting with the president. and that day, i'll tell you, our work paid off. people came from all over
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america. some americans living abroad flew home to participate in the march. people came from almost every state, people from idaho, wyoming, montana, church groups, labor groups, student groups, just plain, everyday individuals. >> rose: and what did your heart say to you when you heard martin luther king say, "i have a dream?" >> when martin luther king jr. got to that place in that speech and said, "i have a dream today, a dream deeply rooted in the american dream," i knew he was preaching and he was really preaching. he knew it himself. he turned those marble steps of the lincoln memorial into a modern day pulpit and the crowds were with him. jackson did a song how we got over, how we got over, and the whole place just rocked and rocked. >> rose: let me give you some timeline.
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april 16, dr. king writes his famous letters from a birmingham jail, and responded to white alabama ministers who urged him to end the demonstration. on june 12 medgar edgars was assassinated. what did you end that day with that you might not have had before? >> on that day, when the march was all over, and because of the speech of dr. king and others, it was a great deal of unity in america, a sense of hope, a sense of optimism. people came together and said to the president and said to members of congress, "america would never, ever be the same." we got down to the white house after the march was all over, president kennedy stood in the door of the oval office and he
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greeted each one of us. hhe was like a beaming proud father. he was just smiling. and he said, ," you did a good job. you did a good job." and when he got to dr. king he said, "and you had a dream." there was so much hope, so much optimism. >> rose: that was all 28. on september 15, the baptist church in birmingham is bombed, and four beautiful young girls are killed. >> on that day, just a few days after the march, that day was a very sad, sad day for all of us in the movement, and a sad day for the nation. these four little girls were just attending sunday schooled on a sunday morning. and we all went to birmingham, attended the funeral of the four little girls. dr. king delivered a eulogy for three, and we made up our minds, made a decision that we would go all out to end segregation and
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racial discrimination in the south, that we would fight for the right to vote, the right to participate in a democratic process. >> rose: and then on november 22, the president is assassinated. >> that was another sad moment. we all cried. we all wept in shame because we saw president kennedy as a an aally. we saw him as a glend even though he had been cautious? >> he was cautious but the speech he gave back in june he set a tone. he said the whole question of race, the question of civil rights is a moral issue. he was the first president to say that. in a short time, he learned, he caught up with the movement, and he wanted to be supportive. he wanted to help out. i remember his brother, the attorney general, saying during the summer of 1963, "john, you all have educated."
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>> rose: he was very clear that he had evolved because he had not understood racism, had not understood poverty in america. and he grew to understand and make it part of his own political campaign later. >> he really did. he-- he really did. and america became a different place. president lyndon johnson picked up where president kennedy had left off. >> rose: what was the first thing he said when you met with him, when you saw him? >> president -- >> johnson. >> johnson. he said, "don't be troubled. don't worry. we're going to get a civil rights bill through the congress." and "i'm going to push it. you all just go and do what you have to do. create the climate. create the environment." and he did. he kept his word. >> rose: now, 50 years later, from 2000, from 1963-2013, where are we? as a people and as a nation, we're not where we were.
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50 years ago. >> rose: we've made progress. >> we've made a lot of progress. back in 1963 i saw the signs that said white waiting, calendared waiting, white men, calendared women. those signs are gone. we passed a civil rights bill. we passed the voting rights act. the fair housing act. and when people said to me nothing had changed, i said come and walk in my shoes. and people-- our children and their children won't see those signs. the only place they will see those signs are in a book, in a museum, on a video. if someone had told me back in 1963, 50 years ago, that i would live to see an african american as president of the united states, i would say, "you're crazy. you must be living in another world." >> rose: let me move to that, 2008, november, barack obama, the first black american elect elected. what did it mean, tell me?
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because people, i think, in some cases don't genuinely appreciate what it meant to see-- i just saw the butler, "the butler" which is about the butler, and oprah winfrey is in it and forrest whittaker is brilliant. and there's a sort of amazing scene in which she has died, the wife has died, and resigned from the white house, retired, watches president obama accept the adulation of the crowd, having won that election. what did it mean to so many black americans to see him elected? >> well, the night that obama was declared the president -- >> he was? chicago. >> he was in chicago. i was in atlanta at dr. king's old church. >> rose: watching television in. >> watching on television.
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i cried. i cried. i was speaking at the pulpit, and i looked back and i saw that he had carried pennsylvania. he had carried ohio. i knew it was over. i jumped so high, i didn't think my spheet were ever going to touch the ground and i cried and kept crying. and someone asked me, "you're crying so much. what are you going to do when he is inaugurated and takes the oath?" i said if i have any tears left, i'll cry some more, and that's exactly what i did. >> rose: when he took the oath, you cried as well? >> yes. >> rose: you've had a remarkable life and i want to move and talk about this. how did this come about, "march, book one," you in cooperation with a graphic artist. what is the story here? and cartoons. what do cartoons mean for you so that you were willing to engage in this project. >> well, a friend of mine and one of my staffers, andrew, who
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is a coauthor said to me in '08, when i finished my own campaign-- because he said he was going away to a comic book cches, to commacon, and a lot of the staff started making fun of him. and i said, "you shouldn't do that because in 1957-pat there was a comic book called 'the montgomery stori', and that book inspired students in north carolina, and it inspired those of us in nashville to start sitting in. so you shouldn't do that." so he came back to me and said, "congressman, you should write a comic book." i said, "oh, no, oh, no." then he kept come back and he said to me again, you should write a comic back. i said, "yes, if do you it with me." >> rose: what story do you tell gisteal tale the story of growing up poor in alabama.
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i tell the story of meeting liewlt lute jr. when i was 15. and meeting rosessa parks in 1957. i tell the story of being a little little wi boy on the farm raising chickens. i used to raise the chickens . >> rose: you named them. >> i named them. i wanted to be a preacher and i preached to the chickens. i said they never quite said amen but some of those chickens tended to listen to me better than some of my colleagues listen to me today in congress. >> rose: your parents thought you might stay with them and be a share cropper but you wanted to get an education. >> yes. they want meade to stay there. they wanted me to work on the farm. >> rose: what was it within you? had you seen, because of the trip you talk, had you seen a different role? >> well, in 1951, when i was only 11 years old, i traveled from rural alabama to buffalo, new york. >> rose: scared to death.
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>> by car. and with my aunt and some first 'causeibs. i saw a different place. i saw blacks and whites living together. i rode an escalator for the first time. i didn't see the signs i saw growing up. i kept asking my mother, my father, grandparents, great-grandparents, and they said, "that's the way it is. don't get in trouble." but rosa parks and martin luther king jr. inspired me. so march, the whole story being involved in the city, going on the freedom ride. being beaten, left bleed in south carolina, in alabama, almost dying on that bridge in selma. >> rose: where did you get the courage to engage in nonviolence when people desperately wanted
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you to be violent against you in order to stop you and your ideas about civil rights? >> we studied. we studied the way of gandhi. the way of thoreau. the way of martin luther king jr. and you come to that point where you say you're going to do nonviolence as a way of life, as a way of living. that you're not going to become bitter and hostile. that you're not going to hate, because hate was too heavy a burden to bear. just love everybody, and use love and peace and nonviolence as a tool, an instrument to change things. >> rose: but did you think you were going to die? >> oh, i thought once or twice i was going to die. i thought i was going to die in 19 gomry, may, 1961, the same year president obama was born. i thought i was going to die on that bridge in selma.
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i thought i saw death on march 7, 1965. put i feel it was kept here for a reason-- to keep pushing. to keep pulling, to try to help create a better america and a better world. >> rose: much discussion about the voting rights act and the action of the supreme court. >> well, i was very disappointed in the decision of the united states supreme court. when that decision came down, it made me very sad. i wanted to cry because i did give a little blood on that bridge to make it right, create the climate for the passage of the voting rights. but some of my friends, some of my colleagues died, people who struggle with me, never saw the pass arvelgt voters rights act. they never lived to cast a vote. and so the three civil rights
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workers dead, i knew there was killing in 1964 in mississippi. that's why i think we have to press on. and those of us in the congress have to find a way to fix what the supreme court did. >> rose: john lewis, thank you. >> thank you very much. good to see you. >> rose: the book is called "march." it is a history of the civil rights movement and you will understand more of the trieldz and difficult times and the triumph of the civil rights movement in america as it took place from the streets to legislation in congress to speeches and motivated by the sacrifice of thousands of people. >> i would simply like to say i think this has been one of the great days of america. >> rose: we continue this evening as we take note of the 50th anniversary of the march oning with. on august 28, dr. martin luther king delivered his "i have a dream" speech.
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it was an american important moment in history, and paved the way for the voting rights act of 1965. half a century later, our first african american president has been elected for a second term but we're still far from realizing equality of dr. king's dreams. clawrns jones is a schollard resident at stanford university. all with us jonathan ryder. he is the author of gospel of freedom. and here, also, david lewis, a professor of history at new york university. he wrote the first academic biography of dr. king published two years after his assassination. isabelle wilkerson, the author of "the warm t of other suns." i am pleased to have each of them here as we continue taking a look at where we have come and
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what the march on washington meant. let me begin with david and talk about where it is and what is it's place in the history of the civil rights movement? >> well, it makes it possible to naik an issue which had been local, southern, and in a sense, racially parochial to be a universalized mission to bring democracy to the republic. and to do so, incorporating the demand that for that to happen, there must be an economic agenda that produces a level playing field, and to quote from martin luther king, to redeem the check that had been issued but whose
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sums, whose funds had been absebt. it was the moment when all of america peered in and saw and appreciated that the myth and the ideals will of the country had in fact never, ever approached the essential authentic substance of the promise. and after that remarkable day of some quarter million people, and the discussion that we just heard described by congressman lewis in the white house with the observing president, john kennedy, a supposition that the inner gee, rhetoric, issues, and
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aspirations would findab institutionalized reification. >> rose: brought about by legal action. >> brought about by legal action. a civil right bill then pending >> rose: did dr. king know what it just happened? did he feel it? there is a sense of optimism for him? >> whenever you talk about king and optimism it's a tricky business. from before birmingham, throughout birmingham-- which brought into being made it possible to have the march-- up until the mount top, his life, theologically and personally was swinging between mount tops and valleys. the answer is he was very pessimistic and despondent when he was in the jail cell in birmingham and he didn't know if birmingham was dpog succeed.
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he needed it to succeed. when the young people went out-- it was the young people of birmingham to indvindicated the model king had written about in letters from birmingham, it led to the things david just described. if you look to back stage and front stage, to king enjoy that summer, he goes to wrigley field, and now the rabbis are involved, the union is involved, the idea of rationalizing what had been a local struggle, and blacks were not on their own. on jiewb 11, after he heard kennedy's speech, he was elated. what he said to some of his colleagues, you can believe that white man hit it out of the park? there was another side of him. he was prepared to be disappointed by kennedy as he did continually. but nonetheless, it led to the
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sense of we're on verge of a breakthrough. we have to push this thing. >> rose: clarence, when did you first meet dr. king? >> i met dr. king when i was twin years of age, and he was two years older than me, so that would make him 31. i met him in 1960 in california after he had been indicted by the state of alabama for perjury and tax terksivation. and he was represented by four superb lawyers. his chief defense towns was a gentleman by the name of hubert delaney. he had two lawyers in chicago, a jax specialist, and a man by the name of fred gray. judge delaney called me only because he was seeking to persuade me to be a log gerk, to be a gopher. i had just come to california after graduating from law
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school. i went to law school a little later than most after terving two years in the united states army dwiewrg the last part of the korea anwr. judge delaney said i need someone, i need you to come down to montgomery. i said i have great respect for you but simply i cannot do that. he was very disappointed in me, and that call was on a thursday night, and the following morning, very early california time, he said, "you know, clarence, at the time of our conversation last night, i did not know it but dr. king has a speaking engagement in california and he's in the air right now. i told him to take advantage of the same zone as soon as he rapidded that one of the first things he should do is try to come and see you. i thought to myself, well, you know, i had great respect for the judge but i thought that was a rilts bit of overkill.
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i knew dr. king. it wasn't going to make any difference to me upon to me i just regarded him as just another baptist preacher. so friday evening in february, the doorbell rings in my home and dr. king spriewsd himself saying, "i'm martib king, and this is robert bernard lee with me. let me put this in historical context. dr. king at that time was a celebrity. he had been on the cover of "time," "look," and "life" magazine. my wife, god rest her soul, when i told her dr. king was coming to her home you would have thought an amalgamation of george clooney, michael jackson, and denzel washington were coming to our home. >> rose: tell me about
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migration. how does that part-- and put it in the context of the civil rights movement. >> this march was, in my view, the culmination of 100 years of frustration and despair. 1963 began with the centennial, the 100th anniversary of the emancipation proclamation, and that means when these people came together, when these quarter of a million people came together, they were representing all the hopes and dreams that had yet to be fulfilled by something that had been signed 100 years before. it was preceded by five decades of out-migration from the south. during that time, from world war i until the moment of that march, there were five million african americans who had left the south, the land of-- the ancestral homeland for most african americans, and in some ways, their departure was a defection from a caste system that ruled the lives of african american after the time of
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emancipation. >> rose: had we seen a reverse migration? >> i called it a return migration. yes, we have. but this great migration was singular in that it was in some ways the only time that american citizens had to leave the land of their birth for places far, far away within the borders of their own country just to be recognized as the citizens to which they had been born. no other group of americans ever had to do that. any succeeding actions by people of this group or any other can't really compare, in my view, to the watershed nature of this. these people became the advanced guard for what we now view as the civil rights movement because they, by their actions and with their bodies, voted in the only way they could, which was to remove themselveses from a place they did not see being able to change on their own. >> rose: let me pull back and talk about 1963. with john lewis i rernsed
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everything from martin luther king in jail and his letter, forward through president kennedy's assassination. but all these things seem to have come, one after the other. it did what? what did it do to the public consciousness of this country's treatment of black americans? >> well, we have a number of very concrete, you know, sort of signs of what that meant. on may 4, the day after the day after d-day, the day after the water hoses and the dogs, john kennedy got up and saw that picture of the dog lunging at the boy and biting him. we have the-- him at a meeting with the american democratic action. and you hear a discombobalated president saying, "we've tried to do so much. i mean, my brothers worked on nothing more, but if i were a negro i would be sore, and i'm not saying be patient." you hear a frazzled john
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kennedy. it's laying the groundwork for a transformation of an awareness in white america that race can no longer be kept off the agenda. >> rose: we have an unacceptable condition in the american fabric. >> we have an unacceptable condition. and so if you look at what happens in that period, you have, that but that is a result of african american impatience. it's all those young people. it's king saying, "there comes a time when people get tired." so, you know, we like to look for these spectacles and moments but to go back to isabelle's point, these are thiks that are long in gestation, and the streams flow together. so without know-- did birmingham cause the march? well, without albany, and without dozens of other people-- but it's transformative for black people and white people that we can't evade this anymore. >> rose: i want to bring you all in, but 1963 was a tipping point. >> it's a tipping point because
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the awareness that isabelle has just described, this magnificent out-migration-- and, indeed, it was, but in many ways, it resulted in a kind of blind alley because people left a condition that was unacceptable and were driven from conditions that were unacceptable, but in the north, indeed, those conditions in many ways obtained in terms of the ghettoization of the incoming african american. so in '63, we were beginning to see that this is in fact a national problem. it's true-- the north is better in many ways, but it's very insufficiency underscores the insufficiency of the democratic program promise. the cold war detains at this time. you have a global expectation of what is going on and
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condemnation of the hypocrisy and and the insufficiencies of the american promise. and this affects the leadership that otherwise would have been indifferent. that is to say, internationalists, the business community, realizing that this is, indeed, bad for business and bad for geopolitics. so that's very much a part of it. the other part is the generational fissure that is marvelous to behold, and that is as jonathan was saying, the n.a.a.c.p. dubious, as clarence was saying the urban league dubious about the advisability of this confrontational march on washington, and the accompanying ebblitions. there was, in fact, before the march takes place a great debate within the civil rights community and beyond it, betrayal that-- from a sudden
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appearance of two foundations promising thousands and thousands of drars in support of a kind of civil rights that would have muted the kind of ire and aspirations that john lewis wished to express that famous day and, thereby, created a great debate-- should john lewis say what he's going to say? >> and he wasn't allowed to say it. >> and he wasn't quite aloud to say it. >> rose: dr. king as a singular sim wol of civil rights, and a magnificent voice for civil rights, without him, it would have been a lesser change. >> well, let me just say there is no question that he was an eloquent spokesperson for the movement.
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but the movement consisted of those people who were in the trenches and foot celtics represented by the student nonviolent according committee headed by john lewis. and it consists of a lot of persons contributing. i want to say in terms of the speech that dr. king gave on that day-- i was standing about 50 feet behind him, and what he-- what he did as i've reflected on it, his speech was a call, a summons to the conscience of america. and he spoke to america against the background at what had happened in the preceding months. and then a shorthand version, he was simply saying to america, "we can be better than this. we are a country that can be better than this. of course in the opening
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paragraphs of his speech of which i frieded some suggested texts, he talked about-- ywe've come-- you know, this is 100 years after the, manse paigz proclamation. we used the symbol of a promissory note being returned because for insufficiency funds. we talked with that. but the point is the substance of his speech was a call to moral conscienceef america. he said, "i have a dream." and interestingly, enough, in my opinion, he had a greater prophetic belief in america at that time than america had in itself. he had a dream. he had a dwreem not in the frnt tense. he said i have a dream that one day my four children will-- future tense--" will be judged by the content of their character and nothe color of
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their skin." >> he was an extraordinary-- i assume most of the people on this program know that the speech which was so celebrated that he gave was not the speech he intended to give. the speech he actually gave came about as a result of mehallia jackson. as he was reading from the prepared text of the speech. he somewhere during-- i don't know maybe the 25th paragraph of the speeches she had win. she show thed to him,"tell them with the dream, martib. tell them about the dream." aise said, i was stand, behind him-- this is all happening in real time. so he takes the prepared text, grabs the lectern, looks out on those almost 300,000 people, and
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this is all happening in real time, and i tirnd to the person who was next to me, and i said to them-- just spontaneously-- i said, "these people don't know it but they're about ready to go to church." >> rose: the speech and the dream. martin luther king would often reach back into things he had said before, phrase thalz resonated with him. does happen beyond the dream aspect of this speech? >> king was a collage composer. the young 'uns today think they invented the concept of sampli sampling. he was brilliant from the time he was a young man at taking bit from harry epsom fozdomestic ic, and mixing it with howard thurman. so king was always mixing the high and the low. if you look at his-- he does "i have a dream" in 1961, with stanley levinson, one of his close advisers doing a lot of
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scripting on that, before a huge a.f.l.-c.i.o. convocation in miami in which he's trying to tell the workers i have a dream. black dream is your dream. so king was always the mix master taking elements. if you look at his speeches from birmingham, wrik wrigly field, cleveland, chicago, detroit, i have a dream and the march on washington is really a culminationef a series of interracial fest valz that summer in which all the elements, many from letters from a birmingham jail-- are reshuffled. when you see the continuities of "i have a dream" even the drea dream-- and king always believed before there was an american dream-- he used to preach this all the time it's slaves had their own dreams. and keep in mind here, doesn't end with the declaration. it's a black man. black slaefs have the last word
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when he has whites become blacks so we can all experience bondage and deliverance. always conflicted when you look at king's brilliant mixing to miss these other strains of black pride and rebeaut of america. one day, the national will live out, not now. >> rose: clawrns, how did he end up being the last speaker? >> there was a proposal, 10 speers, and each speaker would be allocated five minute. and the proposal was dr. king would be in the middle, that he would be like the fifth or sixth speaker. and i listened and i said well, you know, there is some risk in your proposal. and so this proposal was really coming from what i call the conservative black clergy and some of the people from the n.a.a.c.p. and the urban league.
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said, listen, i assume everybody has heard dr. king's speech right? oh, yes, oh, yes, we heard the president's speech. do you really want to follow him after-- do you really want to do that? >> rose: no. i mentioned young people being a part of this. clearly the people who are risking their lives, who are out on the street and giving legs to a revolution that had to happen? >> this was really an evolution that people were seeing unfold before their eyes. when i'm so moved by the audience, people who showed up for that day because as we've heard, and as we know, this was a speech in parts he had given before but there was no place like the mall, national mall, in washington, d.c., and the audience of i quarter of a million people who came in from all over the country to refirm
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this moment. many of the descendants who were supporting and asking peacefully that the country live up to its creed. and these people were at that moment living in a world in which those coming from the south were living in a world in which many of them could not vote. this was not a democracy in 1963. a lot of people don't think of it that way. but at that moment, about 10 million african americans were living in states that did not make it easy for them, or actually made it impossible for them to vote. so they were living-- it was against the law for a black publish and white publish to play checkers together. that's where the people come from the south were coming to washington in hopes of changing. and those who were in the north, those who migrated to the north, recall living in worlds where their arrival was resisted. they were living in hiemp segregation, in?
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ways, worse than it had been in the south. they are living in worlds where their children still were not getting advocate education. they converged on a city that was actuallyarchs we know, under a state of alarm. there were thousands of troops awaiting any potential rioting. there were the emergency rooms shut down to make way for people who might be the riot victims, of violence. and yet these people peace peacefully came together. >> rose: i want to come to-- as we talk about the movement that we're moving forward and the catalyst that came from the march on washington, we have heard hints of some of the tension within the movement as it moved forward, tension between schnick, and the sort of more traditional organizations within the civil rights movement. as well as dr. king who was spright from both of them, separate from both of them, how
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did that play itself out? and later malcolmx and all of that. >> fast forwarding, i mention the peerntion of large foundations willing to fund the civil rights activism provided it domesticated itself and it was relatively demure and that did create quite a can be, where the tetonic in the field, millions flowing into the urban league, and they n.a.a.c.positive, and core, but only a smijet into schnik, indicated there was massive manipulation in the background. you got pretty good literature, with lo mack, who wrote quite literally of that moment. to sainted eldrinl cleaver who was invited it with passion exprgz pep and so, there came a
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critical moment when the -- >> i'll come right to you, clarence, in one second. ask. >> you might say a fork in the road between those who said, okay, the activism has accomplished glaet deal. the violence in birming mam and elsewhere has accomplished a great deal. but the vote is indeed one of the things we want to come out of this. and so you have, then, a kind of parallelism, and you have in the deep south, schnick, which presses for the the demolition of the status quo there. and then you have the labor union backing of brother or voting rights initiatives. and king, moving back and forth between them as the years go biker he will be reproached for his moderation.
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we see now in retrospect his moderation was indeed the formula for success. >> rose: as dr. king was in memphis, obviously on behalf of strike workers-- as he picked up the economic message, when did that happen? i think swee to follow king from the south to the north and the chicago experience that i think enforces upon him the recognition that economicis indeed the lynchpin -- >> core issue. but also recognized to him-- i'm sure he knew it before, but in the streets of cicero, and places like, that he saw racism in the north. >> indeed. >> he said he had never seen this level of hate anywhere. >> he said it was worse than anything he had ever seen in the country, worse than alabama. >> i which was an afederallatio,
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a reinforcement that this was a national challenge, aional a lot of focus had been on the south and now the north cannot deal with them. >> they're not too happy to deal with them, are they? you have the latial unions which were so suspendive to the music in the south, and forof the coffers of the labor union. >> rose: let me just say this. so here we have, as all movement do-- there are personalities, there are conflicts-- but there is a central kind of onward motion that is taking plies as it happens, and gufrom what happened in the south to what happened inspect #-b chicago and other negotiate cities, and then we are where we are today over
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the last 50 years, tell me where we are today. i'll start with you, clarence. >> we're at a critical crossroads in the 21st century in which i believe two issues one is the existential violence, gun violence, and the other is the rising economic disparity. gun violence it's just ubiquitous. it's unbelievable. i was asked by someone, what would martin say today? i think he would put his head in his lap and weep, and weep, because we are engaged in the
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pursuit of violence with a gun as a rational choice for resolving disputes. and this is taking a great toll among our african american youth, and it's a matter of inn avoidable facts, fact, that the high incidents of that violence occurring around the country is black-on-black crime. young black men killing other black men. that's part of where we are today. and that's the reality that we must deal with with. >> i think another way to get at that answer really comes at the point in which david's point about king's progressivism-- he was talking about economics in '63, that whole summer. his commitment to delivering the captives and salving the wounds of all of the people on life's jericho roads. that's central to his christian
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views. that progressivenessism with isabelle'isabelle's momentous st it brings us to is in america we found it easier to solve membership problems. the right's revolution has been very successful. i don't think trayvon martin, as troubling as it is, or the voting right, undermines how far the achievements of the rights revolution has been. it's spreading off to gays and children and imdwrants. that varies from time to time. what we haven't been able to do is the economic issues, the issues of poverty, and if you look at king as he was dealing-- i mean he was sort of a novice when he went to chicago. he really was out of his game but he start to understand the answers to those things do not lentd themselves to the moral drama of taking on jim crowe, and we don't have the psychological support, then or now, whether it's a white backlash then, or even obama can't talk about poor people.
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it's the middle class. >> rose: and the opposition was not personified by people like connor. >> absolutely. >> rose: meaning the conditions that have provided this enormously broadening inequality of income in the country in 2013. >> and they are-- and they are multicausal problems that we don't agree on what to do about them. and they are not even on the agenda is really the extraordinary things. and i think it would break king's heart. for him it was davies and lazarus. he walked by lazarus, the beggar, the gimpy beggar, and he did not see him. that's why i would have heard king thundering, "america, you must be born again." that's what he would be saying right now. >> the march on washington began-- it paused, it should be recalled, when a phillip randolph spoke and asked for a
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moment of silence because a man had just died in africa, and for a pregnant moment, the 250,000 there fell silent. and what had dubois said, the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line. fast forward to that wonderful evening in chicago. i was there, john lewis-- he was not there. john lewis was in atlanta when barack obama -- >> but you were there in chicago, saw the president. >> i did, indeed. >> rose: accept the judgment of the country. >> indeed. and some of us said this is a verdict for post-racialism. we've gone past that now and realized that was another aspiration falsified by dwrid lock and other realities. but in fact, i think king would say that the question of immigration and these other
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issues mask the fundamental problem which is that a very small and diminishing minority pulled the levers are now in ways that obfuscate, and make things even more unequal. >> rose: so how do we size up president obama and race today? >> wow, that's a big question. >> it may be the book you're writing. >> rose: you know what i mean. in a sense, give us the first draft of history on that. >> i think his rise to prominence and his presidency is a measure of where we happen to be right now. we're in a complais of extremes, extremes when it comes to the disparities. economic opportunities and so many other things, life chances still after all we've been through, and, yet, his rise to prominence and his arrival in the white house you means there is a great deal of exprms yet
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there are limits to what can happen with just having a president there in the white house. meaning there's a limit to what one individual can do, no matter how high that person may be. when you're talking about a country built on hundreds of years of history that we live with now. we're all inheritors of what happened before. and what i would hope is that there would be more upon an awareness, more of a seeking and understand, of what's come before. i think we have a world of parallel tracks. we have african americans who are especially aware right now after the trayvonib situation, after the voting rights roll back, of just how precarious for them their sense of citizenship happens to be in this and i have and how quickly we can lose whenever that might happen to be. and yet for the majority of americans, this is viewed add a
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on. >> by the supreme, indeed. >> so we have parallel universes. i'm reminded of the turner commission, and when will we get beyond the statement about these two word that we live in. >> rose: an eloquent summary of where we are. thank you. thank you, jonathan. clarence jones at sanford yrveght thank you so much. >> thank you, sir >> rose: thank you for joining us. see you next time. captioning sponsored by rose communications captioned by media access group at wgbh
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